Documentary: Jiro Dreams of Sushi Review

Bruce Lee. Jordan. 2pac. They all have one thing in common and no it wasnt their love for white chicks. It was Passion. Bruce Lee dedicated his life to learning different styles of fighting from boxing to fencing, all the way to wrestling to create his own unique style Jeet Kune Do. Jordan’s pursuit of excellence made it impossible for him to just be content with 6 rings. He constantly needed to be challenged which saw him play Baseball, Golf even Table Tennis. He wasnt someone who was born with natural talent but someone who was uneasy with the thought of being “just good”. He always wanted to be the best. 2pac coulda retired in 2004 after going down in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful rapper of all time. He coulda just enjoyed his success, lived past 30 and jumped on a Katy Perry track and make millions. He didnt have to write song lyrics at a party celebrating his album going triple Platinum or record up to 6 songs a day or go to the Ghettos and do talks at community halls. And thats the thing – he didnt have to. They all didnt have to. They could just stop what theyre doing and no one would bat an eyelid cos they were on top of their respective game. They kept doing it and they kept doing it as though they were doing it for the first time. They were passionate. You can see it in their eyes and voice in interviews. They didnt just master their craft – they lived it. Add to that list a 85 year old man from Tokyo named Sukiyabashi Jiro.

OK so Im a sucker for Documentaries, especially ones about random shit. I mean I watched a doco on a dude trying to beat a 20 yr Donkey Kong record and the next day I went and bought an Arcade machine. So when I heard of a documentary about a hole in the wall restaurant in Japan which is the ONLY sushi restaurant in the world to have 3 Michelin Stars, I had to watch it. The restaurant is owned and run by Jiro – a man who has been making sushi for 75 years and even at his age he manages to still get a hard on for Sushi. For me Sushi is Sushi. I havent really walked out of a Sushi restaurant and been like “Man that was some shit sushi.” I mean how hard can it be right? Its raw fish on boiled rice and you drench that shit with soy sauce and eat it. Unless you find a pube in your soy sauce or you somehow lost your ability to cook rice that every Asian is born with, theres not much that can go wrong. I think its safe to say thats what most people would think as well. Some French chefs travel around the world learning under famous chefs and struggle for decades to win just 1 Michelin star, this motherfucker has 3! And remember theres not nearly as many components to sushi as French cuisine. So what makes him deserving of 3 Michelin Stars?

What I find amazing about Jiro and his restaurant is that theres no real radical ideas or gimmick. The sushi he puts out are ones you can find at any Sushi Train on George Street. Nothing new. To him its just making the stuff he knows and making it well. He says its all about repetition and having pride in your work and you can see the pride in his work. He’s the first dude at the fish market making sure the tuna he rejects is the one that John West gets. He cuts each fish so meticulously and he tastes every fish that any of his apprentices cut. In fact apprentices work up to 10 years in his restaurant for free! Fark thats some insane work experience. He mentions in the doco the cliche “If you love your job you will never work a day in your life” and Jiro hasnt worked a day in his 85 years. Like fuck man I wanna retire next year and this guy is older than my Grandma and my Grandma retired 30 years ago! And that brings me to my opening point, for Jiro making sushi isnt a job to him. He says money aint a thang to him. Sushi is his life. He thinks about it day and night and even has wet dreams about it hence the title of the doco. Some nights he dreams of different kinds of sushis he can make and jumps out of bed and writes down the ideas. Its just a treat to see the passion in this old man’s voice and seeing his eyes light up when he talks about what he loves the most. Its enough to make me envy him and people like him.

However what I find interesting in this doco isnt Jiro himself, its his 2 sons Ken and Ryu (Thats not really their names but lets just say it is for ease of reference…even though I dont reference them. RACIST KIENT!). One of the people interviewed is a food critic who says that the problem of having a father that is as successful as Jiro is that nothing you do will be able to surpass him. Being as good as your father isnt good enough, you have to be TWICE as good as him to be seen as his equal. Most times when the Chef that made the restaurant successful leaves, the business usually fails soon after. And man its fuckin sushi so unless his son knows how to make Crack Sushi – good luck homie. In Japanese culture the eldest son automatically takes over the father’s business and so Jiro’s youngest son started his own restaurant. Its interesting to see the sons try to get away from their father’s shadow. It really hit home cos I think about my future children and the pressures they’re gonna face growing up with a famous father. I mean Jnr wants to do tap dancing? BOOM Daddy was a number 1 multi-platinum DJ (As voted by the Viet Society in ’04). Lil Snookums got a Participation award in School? BOOM Daddy LE got a Credit in Computer Ethics in University (after doing a case study on himself). So I gots all the bases locked down.

So yeah its a doco about a guy that is passionate about making sushi and the relationship with his 2 sons, mainly the eldest one as he fights to be seen as his father’s equal and prepares for the inevitable when he has to take over the business. Its all in subtitles and some parts are a bit slow and so people may find it uninteresting. You really need to sit there and concentrate to get the most out of it. I recommend this documentary for anyone who is into sushi, food or if you just want to watch a documentary about an ordinary man with extraordinary passion and be inspired.

And that my friends is how you end a review on a documentary about sushi.

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